Leicestershire Police: Crime Data Integrity re-inspection 2018
Crime Data Integrity re-inspection 2018
In May 2017, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) conducted a crime data integrity inspection of Leicestershire Police.
We published the report of this inspection in September 2017 and concluded that the force’s crime-recording arrangements were not acceptable. As a result, we gave Leicestershire Police an overall judgment of inadequate. Of the 30 forces reported upon in this programme of inspections to date, the crime-recording standards found in Leicestershire Police in 2017 were the worst.
Our 2017 report gave numerous recommendations and areas for improvement aimed at improving crime recording in Leicestershire Police. This re-inspection, completed in October 2018, assessed the progress made since that report. The findings and our judgment resulting from this re-inspection are set out below.
- Overall judgment
- Summary of inspection findings
- How effective is the force at recording reported crime?
- How efficiently do the systems and processes in the force support accurate crime recording?
- How well does the force demonstrate the leadership and culture necessary to meet the national standards for crime recording?
- What next?
The integrity of the crime-recording arrangements in Leicestershire Police has deteriorated since HMICFRS’ 2014 Crime Data Integrity inspection report.
The force has made insufficient progress with implementing and sustaining changes recommended in our 2014 report which is seriously undermining the effectiveness and efficiency of its crime-recording arrangements.
However, we found that:
- the majority of officers and staff have made progress in placing the victim at the forefront of their crime-recording decisions;
- its victim support service (Victim First) is well-established, providing victims of recorded crime with access to support services to which they are entitled; and
- it has recently changed its scheduling of diary appointments for victims of crime, which it intends will improve the time taken to respond to those victims whose reports do not require an urgent response.
Nonetheless, much more remains to be done. Based on the findings of our examination of crime reports for the period 1 August 2016 to 31 January 2017, we estimate that the force fails to record over 21,200 reported crimes each year. This represents a recording rate of 75.8 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.94 percent). The 24.2 percent of reported crimes that go unrecorded include serious crimes such as sexual offences and domestic abuse. The recording rate for violent crime is a particular cause of concern at only 65.8 percent (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.25 percent). This means that on far too many occasions, the force is failing victims of crime.
Immediate improvements must be made. In particular, we consider that there are too many failures to make the correct crime-recording decision at the first opportunity. These failures are often due to poor crime-recording processes and an insufficient understanding of crime-recording requirements by officers and staff, compounded by limited supervision to correct these decisions at the earliest opportunity and the absence of effective auditing of crime-recording decisions.
From its low base Leicestershire Police has improved its crime-recording arrangements since our 2017 crime data integrity inspection report. However, we found more still needs to be done.
We found it has:
- improved its overall recording of crime, including violence and sexual offences;
- significantly increased how often it records crime reports at the first point of contact;
- developed and implemented a crime data integrity delivery plan;
- appointed a senior lead to oversee the delivery plan; and
- commenced crime-recording training for officers and staff responsible for making crime-recording decisions.
We examined crime reports from 1 April 2018 to 30 June 2018. Based on this we estimate that the force records 84.1 percent of crimes reported to it (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.71 percent). This is a statistically significant improvement of 8.3 percentage points when compared to our 2017 inspection finding of 75.8 percent (confidence interval +/- 1.94 percent).
We estimate that, compared to the findings of our 2017 inspection, this improved accuracy meant that the force recorded an additional 8,300 crimes for the year covered by our re-inspection audit period. So, more victims will now have their reported crimes recorded. Recording these crime reports makes sure victims have access to the Leicestershire victim support service Victim First, when they may otherwise not have been referred to it. The force has also improved its understanding of demand and the extent to which crime affects its communities.
But despite these improvements, the overall recording rate and the recording rates for violent crime and sexual offences are too low.
We also found that the force still doesn’t record all:
- reports of rape;
- crimes associated with domestic abuse; or
- crimes committed against vulnerable people which are reported directly to its public protection department.
The force’s supervision of the crime-recording process and crime-recording decisions is still inconsistent. It doesn’t have proper safeguards in place to make sure it records reported crimes.
The force also still needs to improve how it:
- understands and uses classification N100;
- records crimes reported by third party professionals (such as social services and health professionals);
- makes decisions when cancelling recorded offences; and
- informs victims of its decision to cancel their crime.
Summary of inspection findings
The force has not maintained the standards of crime-recording accuracy reported in our 2014 report. However, we found that:
- some progress has been made against the recommendations following the 2014 report. This includes improvements to the force’s use of out-of-court disposals (e.g. cautions and community resolutions); and
- the force has made good progress in developing an understanding of modern day slavery offences among officers and staff.
Despite these advances, the force’s performance in respect of crime recording is unacceptable in the following areas:
- The force is currently under-recording too many reports of crime, including:
- violent crimes;
- reports of rape; and
- other sexual offences.
The force needs to act promptly to improve the accuracy of its recording of these reports and to provide all victims with the service to which they are entitled and deserve.
- The force has made insufficient progress with implementing changes recommended in the 2014 report.
- Incidents which have been disclosed directly to public protection teams as part of multi-agency safeguarding arrangements, and which amount to a crime in law, are not always recorded as such.
- Delays to the recording of a reported crime are leading to delays in the referral of victims to the force’s victim care service (Victim First), letting down those victims who need the early support this team can provide.
- Internal crime-recording audits are not being conducted in accordance with national standards and consequently they are providing an incorrect picture to senior managers of the effectiveness of crime-recording arrangements in the force.
- The force must improve the extent to which it collects information regarding the effect of criminality on identifiable groups within communities.
Some of these failings are a consequence of the force not maintaining effective and efficient oversight of crime-recording arrangements. In addition, there is limited supervision of the crime-recording decisions taken by officers and staff, and insufficient progress has been made to ensure officers and staff understand their crime-recording responsibilities.
Senior leaders of the force have also concluded that a change in the crime-recording system, moving to NICHE, and a change in the force operating model designed to produce savings, have affected negatively the service provided to the public in respect of accurate crime recording and has resulted in the degradation of data quality.
We note, however, that the force has recently improved its scheduling of non-urgent diary appointments to see victims of crime; as a consequence all such appointments should take place within 24 hours of the report of a crime. This is a welcome development.
Causes of concern and areas for improvement
In 2017, we identified several causes of concern and areas for improvement, you can view these in the full version of the 2017 report.
The force has made some progress with its crime-recording arrangements since our 2017 report. It has:
- stopped using diary appointments because the process wasn’t working;
- created a crime bureau so it records more crime reports as soon as enough information exists to do so, vastly improving the amount of crimes it records within 24 hours;
- introduced call-handling quality assurance processes that include checking compliance with the National Crime Recording Standards;
- created an incident review team to quality assure incidents and identify actions to address unrecorded crime reports;
- given the force crime registrar responsibility for crime-recording audits;
- introduced a process whereby designated decision makers (DDMs) review the previous 24 hours’ non-crime domestic abuse and vulnerable victim reports, rape reports and incidents opened as a sexual offence to check for unrecorded reports of crime;
- set up a crime data integrity helpline so that officers and staff can call for real time advice; and
- fully implemented four out of seven recommendations from our 2017 report.
The force has also introduced a crime data integrity delivery plan. This plan is comprehensive and contains 55 actions to help the force improve its crime-recording standards. It still needs to fully complete 12 of these actions.
In February 2018, the force started to roll out generic crime-recording training. It has trained the majority of officers and staff. Alongside this, the force also developed and provided bespoke crime-recording training tailored for relevant departments. This is good practice. However, some officers and staff have not yet received training. Consequently, some call handlers, response officers and supervisors still aren’t always sure when to record some types of crime, such as:
- common assault;
- malicious communications;
- public order; and
- professional third-party reports.
It has been conducting its own incident and crime audits in line with national standards since January 2018. So, it was already aware of some of the failings described in this report. The results of these audits are reported to monthly performance meetings and to the monthly crime data integrity operations group, both of which the senior lead chairs.
The audits identify procedural issues that may be affecting crime-recording accuracy, and instances where individual feedback will improve future crime-recording decisions. To support this the audit results are sent to department leads so that feedback can be given to officers and staff. This is good practice but there is an absence of monitoring to ensure these feedback processes are working.
We note that the force has written a revised audit strategy, which includes feedback to individuals and an organisational learning process. This is welcome.
How effective is the force at recording reported crime?
Overall crime-recording rate
84.1% of reported crimes were recorded
The force has considerable work to do in order to ensure it records all reports of crime in accordance with the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR). We examined reports of crime which the force received, and for which an auditable record was created. The force informed HMICFRS that all crime that is recorded (excluding fraud) came through an auditable crime reporting route.
We found that the force recorded 75.8 percent of these crimes (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.94 percent). We estimate that this means the force is not recording over 21,200 reports of crime each year. Those failings are depriving many victims of the services to which they are entitled and are a cause of concern.
Of a total of 1,781 reports of crime that we audited, we found 454 that we assessed to be crimes related to domestic abuse. Of these 454 crimes, the force had recorded 311. The 143 offences not recorded included a serious assault, offences of violence and crimes involving harassment and malicious communications.
We found that many of these reports involved the reporting of a crime at the first point of contact with the force, but these crime reports went unrecorded with little rationale to explain why. We also found that many officers attending reports of crime believed incorrectly that if a victim reported a crime but did not want any formal action taking, there was no need to record the crime. All reports of crime should be recorded irrespective of the subsequent action sought by the victim. Doing so enables the force to understand clearly the extent and types of crime being committed against its communities and to then use its resources efficiently and effectively to respond to that demand. It also enables the force to understand more fully those crimes previously reported by individual victims. This may assist the force to provide the most appropriate response in the future, including in respect of the victim’s safeguarding needs.
We found that the force had correctly identified at the outset that it was dealing with a domestic abuse report in virtually every domestic abuse case, and that safeguarding requirements were considered in the majority of these cases, but not all. We also found that no investigation was undertaken in the majority of these reports of crime, thereby increasing the potential risk of harm to the victim.
The absence of understanding of the extent of domestic abuse crime, the under-recording of crimes related to domestic incidents, and the failure to provide a satisfactory service to these victims are a serious concern. This is because domestic abuse often involves victims who are particularly vulnerable to further offences being committed against them.
Factors contributing to the force’s under-recording of crime reports are its crime-recording processes, its workforce’s crime-recording knowledge and the limited capacity of supervisors to provide effective oversight of crime-recording decisions.
Deficiencies in the force’s crime-recording processes are a concern. In particular, we found that:
- when further offences come to light after the initial deployment or during subsequent investigation, the force does not always record reported crimes;
- incident records that contain multiple reports often result in only one crime report being recorded;
We found that IMU staff and frontline officers are not always sure of crime-recording requirements. In particular:
- basic crime-recording principles and knowledge of crime-recording requirements relating to common assault, malicious communications and harassment are not always understood. For example, we found that staff were unsure of the crime-recording rules regarding common assault where there is no physical assault but there is the threat of one; and
- at the point of report, on occasion, when assessing whether, on the balance of probability, an offence has been committed, insufficient emphasis has been given to the initial account of the victim.
A further problem relates to the force’s supervision of its crime-recording decisions. We found supervision of its crime-recording decisions requires improvement and in particular:
- supervisors do not have the capacity to scrutinise adequately all crime related incidents to satisfy themselves that crime-recording decisions are correct;
- supervisors do not have the capacity to scrutinise non-crime occurrences and crime records on the crime-recording system to satisfy themselves that crime-recording decisions are correct;
- domestic abuse incidents are not supervised adequately to ensure that sufficient and appropriate rationale for not recording a crime exists.
We also note, in concluding this section, that the FCR – responsible for ensuring the crime-recording standards are applied in accordance with the national rules, including the setting of crime-recording audit programmes in the force – is not responsible for crime-recording audits in Leicestershire Police. Additionally, she is not responsible for the methodology of the audits completed by those who undertake this function. Consequently, we found that the audits carried out by the force and reviewed as part of this inspection have not been conducted in line with national best practice, and have wrongly reported high levels of crime-recording accuracy. This suggests that the force has, to a very serious degree, been unaware of the crime-recording issues identified by HMICFRS. The force should address this immediately.
The force has made some progress with its processes ensuring it now records more reports of crime in accordance with the Home Office Counting Rules (HOCR). We examined reports of crime the force received, and for which it had created an auditable record. The force told us that 94.3 percent of crime it records (except fraud) comes through an auditable route. This doesn’t mean that 94.3 percent of crimes reported to Leicestershire Police come through these routes, but that 94.3 percent of crime is recorded this way.
We found that the force recorded 84.1 percent of these crimes (with a confidence interval of +/- 1.71 percent). We estimate that this means the force is recording an additional 8,300 reported crimes each year compared to the findings of our 2017 inspection. This is a statistically significant improvement of 8.3 percentage points but falls short of what is needed.
Of the 1,662 reports of crime we audited, we assessed 429 as related to domestic abuse. Of these, the force had recorded 340. Of the 89 offences not recorded, 70 were violence offences, including:
- common assaults;
- assaults occasioning actual bodily harm;
- harassment; and
- malicious communications.
Many of these were reported directly to the force. But the force didn’t record them as crimes, and we found no clear evidence or explanation as to why. We also found occasions where call handlers didn’t record on the incident log full details of their conversation with the person reporting a crime. This means the attending officer doesn’t always have the full information to make a crime-recording decision.
A report was made of domestic abuse, amounting to an offence of controlling and coercive behaviour. The victim was a repeat victim of domestic abuse. Police attended but did not record any offences or provide information to suggest a crime did not occur. No investigation was undertaken.
We found that in 18 of the unrecorded cases, officers didn’t do a risk assessment when they attended to speak to the victim. We also found no record of the force considering safeguarding requirements in 12 of these cases, and in 34 cases it didn’t carry out an investigation.
It remains a concern that the force is still under-recording crimes relating to domestic abuse incidents and failing to give many of these victims a satisfactory service.
78.9% of reported violent crimes were recorded
We found that only 65.8 percent of violent crimes reported to the force are recorded (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.25 percent). This is lower than the overall crime-recording rate noted above. By our estimate, this means the force fails to record over 7,900 violent crimes that are reported to it each year. As violent crime can be particularly distressing for the victim, this is an area in which the need for improvement is particularly acute.
Many of these crimes involve injury, which can cause even further distress for the victim. These included reports of grievous bodily harm. We therefore find the recording of reports of violent crime by the force to be a serious concern.
In the majority of cases, where violent crimes were not recorded, we found the principal causes to be:
- the processes currently in place for the recording of a reported crime (described earlier);
- officers and staff not understanding adequately the crime-recording rules, particularly around the complexities of some violence offences such as harassment, malicious communications and the more straightforward offence of common assault. This results in the failure to record many such reports of crime; and
- an absence of adequate supervision and satisfactory audit of crime-recording decisions.
Victims of violent crime and, in particular, victims of more serious violence, often require substantial support. This support should come not only from the reporting and investigating officers, but also, possibly, from the force’s victim support service, Victim First. Under those circumstances, crime recording takes on a heightened importance. Failing to record properly a violent crime can result in Victim First receiving no notification that a person has become a victim of violent crime. That in turn, deprives victims of the support they need and deserve.
We found that 78.9 percent of violent crimes reported to the force are recorded (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.72 percent). This is lower than the overall crime-recording rate above. By our estimate, compared to the findings of our 2017 inspection, this means the force is now recording an additional 3,900 reported violence crimes each year. This is a statistically significant improvement of 13.1 percentage points, but the force is still failing many victims of violent crime. As violent crime can be particularly distressing for the victim, and many of these crimes involve injury, the need for improvement in this area is particularly acute and remains a concern.
When the force doesn’t record a violent crime, the principal causes are:
- misunderstanding of the crime-recording rules about some violence offences such as harassment, malicious communications and common assault;
- failures to record multiple crimes in accordance with the HOCR;
- failures to record additional crimes disclosed during investigations;
- failures to record crimes reported by third party professionals (such as social services and health professionals); and
- inconsistent supervision of the crime-recording process and crime-recording decisions, with inadequate safeguards in place to ensure it records most crimes correctly.
Victims of violence and serious violence often need a lot of support. This should come from the reporting and investigating officers, and other appropriate organisations, such as Victim First. In these circumstances, crime recording is even more important. If the force fails to record a violent crime properly, it can mean victims aren’t referred to Victim First. This deprives victims of the support they need and deserve.
87.8% of reported sex offences were recorded
The force’s recording of reports of sexual offences (including rape), is a cause of concern. We found that the force records 79.4 percent of sexual offence crimes that are reported to it (with a confidence interval of +/- 3.35 percent). We estimate that this means the force fails to record over 400 reported sexual offence crimes each year.
Those failings are significant given the very serious nature of sexual offences and the harm they cause to their victims. We found, for example, that the force failed to record reports of sexual assault against both adults and children, sexual offences committed online or using social media, and incitement of children to commit a sexual act.
The causes of that under-recording are similar to those described earlier:
- the deficiency of the processes that are currently in place for the recording of a reported crime;
- officers and staff not understanding adequately the crime-recording rules;
- an absence of adequate supervision and satisfactory audit of crime-recording decisions; and
- on occasion, when assessing whether, on the balance of probability, an offence has been committed, insufficient emphasis on the account of the victim, particularly where the victim does not wish to pursue any prosecution, where the victim is intoxicated or where the person reporting the crime is a professional third party acting on their behalf.
We also found that some officers were reluctant to record some types of crime that young people may have committed. They wrongly believed that this could unfairly criminalise these young people. The act of recording a reported crime does not in itself criminalise a suspect. However, it does allow for a force to have a full understanding of crime in its area and to provide an opportunity for the appropriate intervention with a suspect, such as considering safeguarding needs as an alternative to prosecution.
Sexual offence victims require significant support from the outset. The failure to record such crimes, to provide appropriate support to the victim, or any delay in attendance or investigation will often result in a lack of confidence in the police and reluctance on behalf of the victim to engage in subsequent stages of the criminal justice system. The force must improve its performance in this respect.
The force records 87.8 percent of sexual offence crimes (including rape) that are reported to it (with a confidence interval of +/- 2.63 percent). Compared to the findings of our 2017 inspection, we estimate this means the force has recorded an additional 210 reported sexual offence crimes in the past year. This is a statistically significant improvement of 8.4 percentage points. These crimes may otherwise have gone unrecorded. This improvement is welcome, but more work remains to be done.
The reported sexual offence crimes that were not recorded included:
- 12 sexual assaults;
- six offences of incitement against children to engage in sexual activity; and
- a variety of other sexual offences against children.
The causes of this under-recording are similar to those identified above for violent crime.
At the point of report, officers and staff assess whether on the balance of probability an offence has been committed. It is a concern that they don’t always place enough emphasis on the account of the victim, despite us highlighting this issue in our 2017 report. This is particularly evident when the victim doesn’t want to pursue a prosecution, the victim is intoxicated or the person reporting the crime is a professional third party acting on the victim’s behalf.
It is particularly important for victims of sexual offence crimes that they are recorded, as many of these crimes are very serious in nature and cause significant harm to their victims. The force must improve its performance in this respect.
Rape is one of the most serious sexual offence crimes a victim can experience. Therefore, the accurate recording of such reports is especially important. It helps to ensure victims receive the service they have a right to expect and deserve, and it allows the police to identify the nature and extent of sexual violence in their local area. In turn, this enables the police to operate with the highest practicable levels of efficiency to identify and deal effectively with perpetrators.
In Leicestershire Police we found 100 reports of rape that should have been recorded, but only 83 of these had been recorded. These include reports that originated on the force incident system, reports made during modern slavery investigations, and from a review of N100 records (see below).
Eight of the unrecorded crimes were disclosed while dealing with victims of modern slavery. Five were recorded as other serious sexual offences, and four had not been recorded at all.
We found that when a report of rape had not been recorded as a crime, Leicestershire Police provided support and safeguarding in all of these cases, including referrals to partner organisations when appropriate. However, we also found that on some occasions when a crime was not recorded an effective investigation was not carried out. This underpins the importance of the recording of reported crime and is wholly unacceptable.
The causes of the under-recording of these 17 crimes are the same as were identified above in respect of sexual offences. These are:
- the deficiency of the processes that are currently in place for the recording of a reported crime;
- officers and staff not understanding adequately the crime-recording rules;
- the absence of a clear policy which sets out who is responsible for recording such crimes; and
- the absence of adequate supervision and satisfactory audit of crime-recording decisions.
In addition, we found the force’s use of the Home Office classification N100 was confused and inconsistent. Introduced in April 2015, the N100 is a record created to explain why reported incidents of rape or attempted rapes, whether from victims, witnesses or third parties, have not been immediately recorded as a confirmed crime. This can include instances where additional information confirms the rape did not occur, or where the rape occurred in another force area and was therefore transferred to the relevant force to record and investigate.
We found 12 reports for which an N100 classification should have been applied but it was only applied on one occasion.
Separately, we reviewed 19 sample records where an N100 classification had been used. We found that 11 were correctly recorded. Of the eight remaining N100s:
- two had later correctly been recorded as rape crimes;
- two should have been recorded as rape crimes but had remained as N100;
- two had been recorded incorrectly as rape crimes but should have stayed recorded as N100; and
- two should not have been recorded as N100 at all.
Officers and staff spoken to during this inspection had very little awareness of the N100 classification. This included public protection specialists, who are most likely to need to consider the use of the classification.
In order to minimise the delay in recording an offence of rape and to ensure appropriate records are made which justify not recording a reported rape, the force must take action to ensure that it uses classification N100 correctly and consistently.
As with other sexual offences, the recording of a report of rape is important. Victims generally require significant support from the outset and any delay in providing support can be detrimental to both the recovery of the victim and to any investigation. This, in turn, can negatively influence future judicial proceedings.
84 of 93 audited rape reports were accurately recorded
Rape is one of the most serious crimes a victim can experience. So, it is especially important that reports of rape are recorded accurately. It helps to make sure victims receive the service and support they deserve. And it helps the police identify the nature and extent of sexual violence in their local area.
Since our 2017 inspection, the force has improved its crime recording for reports of rape. But further improvement is needed, as the force still doesn’t record all rape crimes reported to it.
We found that 84 of 93 rape crimes had been correctly recorded. Of the nine unrecorded reports of rape:
- one was misclassified as a sexual assault;
- one was misclassified as causing or inciting a female under 13 to engage in sexual activity;
- one was incorrectly classified as an N100 (see below); and
- six were not recorded at all.
We found the force had safeguarded the victims in all these cases. It didn’t investigate one unrecorded report of historic rape, because it didn’t follow up the victim’s allegation.
Where forces don’t record a reported rape as a crime, they must apply a Home Office classification N100.
We checked 20 N100 records. Of these:
- two were reports of rape in another force area that were subsequently correctly recorded as rape crimes and transferred to the relevant forces;
- two should have been recorded as rapes at the outset;
- one was a third party professional report which should have been recorded as a rape at the outset;
- two were later correctly recorded as other crimes, namely sexual assault and robbery, after victim confirmation; and
- the remaining 13 were correctly recorded.
Separately, we also reviewed 34 sample records where the force should have used an N100 classification. But it only did so in six of these.
We found that other than specialist detectives in the rape unit, call handlers and officers still had very little awareness of the N100 classification. Again, this is disappointing as we highlighted this matter as an area for improvement in our 2017 report. The force must now work urgently to improve its understanding and ensure the correct use of classification N100.
It is essential to record a rape report correctly as a crime as soon as possible. Victims will often need a great deal of support from the start. Any delay, or failure to record the crime correctly, can have a negative impact on both the victim’s recovery and any investigation.
How efficiently do the systems and processes in the force support accurate crime recording?
Crime reports held on other systems
4 of 9 vulnerable victim crimes were recorded
The extent to which crimes reported directly to the force public protection teams are not being recorded is inexcusable. In order to be confident that vulnerable victims always receive the support they need, the force must take immediate action to improve its recording of these crimes.
We examined 48 vulnerable victim records on Niche. Of these, we found that 20 crimes should have been recorded, of which only one had been. The missing 19 crimes that should have been recorded were all assaults, these included offences against both adults and children.
There was evidence that most but not all of the victims of these crimes were being safeguarded and some, but not all of the crimes were being investigated.
Despite this, the extent to which reports of crime received by public protection teams are not being recorded, and the seriousness of the risks associated with the under-recording of these reports of crime, are causes of concern.
We found that the force’s audit of vulnerable victim records on Niche focused on those records that were already associated with recorded crimes. The exclusion of records from this audit which were not associated with a crime record means that the force is unaware of the extent of under-recording of reports of crime contained within these records.
To be confident that vulnerable victims always get the support they need, it is important that crimes reported directly to public protection teams are always recorded. To make sure this is the case, the force has changed its procedures for recording crimes reported directly to its public protection teams. A DDM now examines all such reports to make sure every reported crime has been recorded. And the force has introduced an incident review team to review closed incidents without a crime report, to make sure they are correct. Despite these new arrangements, the force still doesn’t record all such crimes.
We examined 50 vulnerable victim records and found that six of these records contained a total of nine reports of crime, of which the force had recorded four. The remaining 44 vulnerable victim records did not contain reports of crime and therefore did not require a crime-recording decision to be taken. The five reports of crime that were not recorded by the force were linked to three vulnerable victim records and comprised:
- one crime of non-injury assault against an adult;
- one crime of harassment towards a child; and
- three crimes from one record, being one crime of sexual activity with a child under 16, one of distributing an indecent image and one of possessing an indecent image with intent to distribute.
All these cases involved professional third-party reports and should have been recorded as soon as they were reported. We found the force had provided sufficient safeguarding to two of these victims but hadn’t investigated any of these reports.
The force is aware of and working hard to close gaps in operating procedures that mean reports of crime from other organisations, many of whom do not have knowledge about crime-recording imperatives, can be slow to materialise or lack detail.
Offences relating to modern slavery are an important and recent addition to the crimes that forces must record and investigate. We therefore reviewed the recording of reports of modern slavery offences. We also examined the force’s understanding of the origin of such reports. Again, we found that the crime-recording requirements from these reports must improve.
We examined 15 modern slavery reports and found that 19 crimes should have been recorded but only seven were recorded. Among the missing crimes were five modern slavery crimes, four reports of assault and one report of rape.
We also examined 17 reports which the force had recorded as modern slavery crimes. From these, we found that an additional 14 crimes had not been recorded. These missing crimes included two modern slavery crimes, five reports of assault and seven reports of rape.
The force works regionally, nationally and internationally in its efforts to tackle modern slavery. A detective superintendent is responsible for developing the force’s response to modern slavery, supported by a small dedicated team which develops intelligence and manages the response to investigations. The force is developing an intelligence picture in collaboration with partners, including other police forces in the region.
Officers and staff have a good, basic knowledge of modern slavery offences. They are aware that a dedicated team existed which would support them if needed.
Offences relating to modern slavery are an important and recent addition to the crimes that forces must record and investigate. We examined how well the force records reports of modern slavery offences.
The force has improved its procedures to record reports of modern slavery crimes. It has created a human trafficking and modern slavery investigation team, reallocating a detective sergeant, six constables and a PCSO specifically to investigate reports and significantly enhance the volume and sophistication of prevention and victim support activity. The force crime registrar now also proactively examines modern slavery incidents and referrals.
The force works with partner agencies in the local area and the National Crime Agency to share and develop intelligence collaboratively. The community within the city of Leicester, specifically, has unusually rich representation from different countries and consequently has close commercial ties with eastern Europe and Asia. This presents a complex picture to the force and it is taking positive steps to fully grasp the nature and scale of possible modern slavery and human trafficking in the local context.
We examined 20 modern slavery crimes and found that the force correctly recorded 17. It also correctly recorded nine rapes and three other crimes associated with these reports. But it failed to record:
- one rape crime;
- one theft;
- one threat to commit criminal damage; and
- two N100 classifications.
Four modern slavery crimes were over-recorded, along with one crime of kidnap and one of assault.
We also looked at eight modern slavery reports the force received through the national referral mechanism. We found that it correctly recorded one crime of sexual assault but hadn’t recorded one modern slavery crime of facilitating travel with a view to exploitation. We also found that it had failed to record two classification N100s where victims had been forced to have sex as prostitutes abroad.
This is an improvement since our last inspection, but the force still faces challenges to fully understand the types and frequency of crimes involved. We believe that the increase in specialist investigators will support the force to make the improvements necessary.
The HOCR require that reports of crime are recorded within 24 hours of the receipt of the report. We found that, of the reports of crime that had been recorded by Leicestershire Police, only 65 out of 83 reports of rape, 306 out of 502 reports of violent crime and 88 out of 172 sexual offences (excluding rape) had been recorded within 24 hours of the receipt of the report.
While some victims may be referred to support agencies by other means, the delay in recording a reported crime also delays the referral of the victim to the force’s victim support team (Victim First). As some victims would benefit from the early support this team can provide, these delays are unacceptable.
The rules require forces to record crimes within 24 hours of the report. We found that, of the crime reports Leicestershire Police had recorded, it did so within 24 hours for:
- 556 out of 611 violent crimes;
- 220 out of 244 sexual offences; and
- 482 out of 492 other offences.
In general, when Leicestershire Police makes correct crime-recording decisions, its procedures successfully ensure it does so within 24 hours. This timely recording enables it to make early referrals to Victim First for those victims in need of support. This is a substantial improvement since our 2017 inspection and is very welcome.
Where additional verifiable information (AVI) is obtained to show that a recorded crime did not occur, the crime record can be cancelled.
We reviewed 20 cancelled recorded crimes each of rape and sexual offence crimes (excluding rape), 22 violence crimes and 13 robbery crimes. We found that the FCR, who has responsibility for the cancellation decisions in regard to recorded crimes of rape, had correctly cancelled 17 out of 20 of these crimes. Other crime cancellation decisions are the responsibility of three staff known as designated decision makers (DDMs). The DDMs had correctly cancelled 18 out of 20 sexual offences, 21 out of 22 violence offences and all 13 robbery offences. This illustrates a good standard of decision making for most of these crimes. However, the incorrect decisions in respect of rape are of particular concern.
We also found that many officers and staff had a limited understanding of what amounts to AVI for the purpose of cancelling a recorded crime.
Where a crime has been cancelled or transferred to another force for investigation, a victim should always know the status of his or her reported crime. In the case of a decision to cancel a recorded crime, the very least the victim should expect is an explanation of the reason for this decision. We found that the force needs to improve in this respect as, where a victim needed to be told, not all victims had been told of the decision to cancel their reported crime.
DDMs make all crime cancellations except rape. The force crime registrar makes rape cancellation decisions. We found that the force correctly cancelled:
- 14 out of 16 rape crimes;
- 15 out of 20 violent crimes;
- 16 out of 20 sexual offence crimes; and
- 6 out of 7 robbery offences.
Of the 49 victims the force should have told about its decision to cancel their crime, it had informed only 34.
We found that in some cases, crimes had been cancelled without DDM approval.
Compared to our 2017 report, the force’s standards for cancelling recorded crime have got worse. It remains a concern that the force does not always inform victims about the cancellation of their recorded crime.
HMICFRS found that the force must improve in its collection of information regarding crimes affecting identifiable groups within communities.
Protected characteristics, such as gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, religion and age do not necessarily increase the vulnerability of an individual to the risk of crime. However, it is important that the force records information regarding the characteristics of victims of crime in order to identify any patterns which may exist between different community groups and their vulnerability to (or their relative likelihood to report) different types of crime. We found that the force records equality information in relation to the victim such as age and gender on every occasion, but only records other protected characteristics where these are determined to be relevant to the offence.
Importantly, so long as the force fails to record such information, it will be unable to understand clearly whether its crime-recording decisions are consistent across different community groups. This is, therefore, an area for improvement.
The force has made good progress to improve its collection of information about the effect of criminality on identifiable groups within communities. The force can now record ethnicity, religion, nationality and disability when it records a crime, as well as age and gender details. It completed a burglary crime audit in January 2018 which included how often these markers were used. This will form part of all future crime-recording audits.
Building on that improvement, the force is also investing in new software to capture better information linked to equality data. The force crime registrar is active within a national group responsible for developing the force’s ‘Niche’ crime-recording system, to improve the depth and quality of information recorded about victims and crimes, and to elevate the sophistication of analysis it can conduct. This shows the appetite of the force to improve local systems wherever possible and influence at a national level for the benefit of victims of crime.
How well does the force demonstrate the leadership and culture necessary to meet the national standards for crime recording?
The integrity of the crime-recording arrangements in Leicestershire Police has deteriorated since HMICFRS’ 2014 Crime Data Integrity inspection report. Senior officers understand this, and have recognised that the introduction of a new crime-recording system, and changes to the force operating model introduced in February 2015, have in some respects affected negatively the standard of service the force provides to the public, including the accuracy of crime recording.
The force is now working to adapt its operating model. Senior leaders are ensuring that this includes an emphasis on accurate and effective crime recording. This is welcome.
We found that officers and staff always seek to place the needs of the victim at the heart of their crime-recording decisions but due to insufficient knowledge of crime-recording requirements many victims are being failed. This included those occasions when officers attending reports of crime believed wrongly that because the victim did not want any formal action taking, there was no need to record the crime. This absence of knowledge is exacerbated by limited supervision to challenge or correct wrong crime-recording decisions.
Insufficient progress has been made with implementing and sustaining changes recommended in the 2014 report. We also note that more needs to be done if the force is to fully meet the expectations of the action plan developed by the national policing lead on crime statistics following the 2014 report, and which all forces have been asked to implement.
However, the progress made in the use of out-of-court disposals is notable. Effective processes are now in place to monitor all such disposals, including the use of independent scrutiny panels. Procedural documents are clear and concise; these ensure that considerations as to the suitability of the use of the disposal for both the victim and offender are very good.
We found good leadership from senior officers in Leicestershire Police toward crime recording. Officers and staff showed an approach that places the victim at the forefront of their crime-recording decisions.
The force has improved its crime-recording standards in many areas. Recording rates have improved and its crime-recording timeliness is excellent.
In response to our 2017 inspection report, the force appointed a senior officer as the strategic business lead. The lead will develop and oversee a comprehensive crime data integrity delivery plan. The plan includes all outstanding recommendations from our 2014 inspection report and national action plan, and the recommendations and areas for improvement in our 2017 report.
The force has made good progress against the delivery of this plan. But it needs to make improvements more quickly, as much remains to be done. The force has governance arrangements to allow it to do this, and progress against the delivery plan is regularly reported to the crime data integrity group and the chief officer team.
Crime recording is on the force risk register, and the force has recently reorganised its organisational risk board. In future, crime-recording audit results will be reported to this board as well as the existing governance boards.
The force has fully implemented four out of seven recommendations from our 2017 report and has made some progress against the areas for improvement. It still needs to fully implement the following recommendations:
- develop and implement procedures for effective supervision of crime-recording decisions across the whole force;
- ensure that at the point of report, greater emphasis is placed on the initial account of victims; and where more than one crime is disclosed within an incident record, or is identified as part of other recorded crime investigations, these are recorded; and
- deliver crime-recording training to those officers and staff that have not yet received it.
Also, the force needs to ensure it makes more progress with the outstanding areas for improvement in our 2017 report.
Leicestershire Police has made some progress with improving its crime-recording standards since our 2017 report, and this is welcome. But it now needs to work more quickly to address the outstanding causes of concern and areas for improvement identified in this and our 2017 report. We are confident that the leadership and governance arrangements that it now has will enable it to do so.
We expect the force to continue to address the causes for concern and to fully implement the recommendations and areas for improvement given in our 2017 inspection. We will continue to monitor this and will re-inspect the force again to assess its progress.